When Sen. Bob Krist, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, needs to relax, he heads for the sky.
“When the day is beautiful and the sky is blue…” he trailed off and started again. “Some people fish or play golf to relax. My thing just happens to be flying – it gets in your blood.”
A commander in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, Krist’s civilian flights have taken him on joy rides around Nebraska as well as to Disney World with his daughter, Courtney.
“My daughter is my best co-pilot,” he said.
Krist and his wife, Peggy, also enjoy spending time with their 15-month-old grandson, Lucas, and their son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Aura.
Appointed Sept. 11 by Gov. Dave Heineman, Krist is a contract manager and the chief pilot for the northwest division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He replaces former senator Mike Friend, who resigned from the Legislature Aug. 16 to become the first director of the state’s Office of Violence Prevention.
Family has always been an important part of Krist’s life. He credits his parents for instilling in him a strong appreciation for education by encouraging him to make his studies a priority. Although he did study hard, Krist admitted he was often motivated by a desire to be academically eligible to play football and baseball.
“That was always a spark to get me to study,” he said with a laugh.
Krist is a graduate of Omaha’s Creighton Prep and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, where he played wide receiver for the Tomcats. Regardless of his initial motivation, Krist now counts his education as one of the most valuable things in his life.
“I don’t intend to squander it,” he said, noting that the experience especially impressed on him the importance of public service.
“If you line up your priorities with God, family and then everything else, it will all fall into place,” he said.